Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An ad for the Pullman car, 1894

May 11, 1894

The Pullman Strike happened today in 1894. It was a wildcat strike and wound up being one of the most influential in history—the end result was a ruling that forcing employees to live in a company town was unconstitutional. One of the many interesting things about company towns, is that in England, where they were established, they tended to be established by people with arguable progressive tendencies, who wanted to see workers live in better conditions. In America, they were adopted by robber barons, who wanted to enforce local prohibitions. Pullman, Illinois, was a place with a very high cost of living. It was also nearly bone dry—no saloons allowed. George Pullman, incidentally, was known for the Pullman car, which housed wine cellars for business travelers’ convenience. Saloons for the working classes, however, were frowned upon by industrialists like Pullman, who wanted a sober work force.